Today. Last day of June … where has the first half of the year gone? It has been pleasantly cool today (lower- to mid-80s). For lunch Cheryl, Jennifer, and I walked down to the Batman (AT&T) building. There is a Chick-fil-A on the bottom floor. I hadn't had CFA since September and Cheryl gave me a coupon for a free sandwich. It was nice to soak up a little sunshine. Except for the months of November–February, I spend a lot of my day wishing I had a window. Someday.

really big zucchini!
After work I went out to my garden to pull weeds. I had kind of neglected it lately; my strawberries aren't producing this year and the crabgrass started creeping in. That stuff is hard to get rid of! It's funny how being an adult makes you start to care about stuff like crabgrass.

I was out there sitting on my little red bucket and carefully separating weeds and crabgrass from my delicate strawberry plants. I'm sure there are weeds beneath my zucchini plants, but the leaves are so huge and the zucchini seems to be thriving that I'm not going to worry about it. I check my zucchini at least every other day; sometimes I pick zucchini bigger than my head. (Be impressed and pretend you don't know that too-big zucchini are more bitter than zucchini 8" or shorter.)

Next Friday (July 9) I am going to hear Matthew West talk about his new album, The Story of Your Life, due out October 5. Matthew asked listeners via web and radio to submit their own stories of restoration, hope, etc. Literally thousands responded from every state in the US and 20 countries as well. He then spent two months in a cabin writing the songs for the new record based on the themes of the letters. Should be pretty cool.

au revoir June,


29 june 10

Tonight I met up with Sam and Anne at Kairos. The guest speaker tonight was Priscilla Shirer. Her brother, Anthony Evans, led worship.

Priscilla talked about Jacob in Genesis 28 and his four secrets:
1) The certain place is a sacred place.
2) The tough stuff is full of good stuff.
3) God confirms His promises.
4) The Secret of Returning

You can watch the video or listen to the audio at the Kairos Nashville website.

Today I packed a sandwich for lunch, but when the offer for Baja Fresh came along, I couldn't pass it up. Jennifer B., Jennifer H., Andy, Jeremy, and I went there for lunch. I had never been; I ordered a Caesar salad burrito (very good but don't let the "salad" part fool you … It was like 940 calories).

buenos noches,


rinse and repeat.

Friday: rained. Saturday: rained. Sunday: rained. Monday: rained.

It's raining. Again. I'm starting to wonder if my Garmin might have malfunctioned a year ago and sent me to Seattle instead of Music City. I enjoy the rain though, when I'm not trying to enjoy the outdoors. I save a lot of money not having to water my garden. And the weatherman said theses storms are preceding a cold front. It's only supposed to be 86 on Wednesday, a nice change to all these 100+ heat index days.

I took a 1/2 day of vacation today. I know that's kind of ridiculous considering I just came off a weekend, but it was a packed weekend and I was sitting at my desk at 6:30 a.m., realizing I am all caught up on my work. I started my half day off with a trip to Target for a toaster and Aldi for milk. Then a sweet phone conversation with Jenn, time in my garden, and a nap.

Today I've kept coming back to a couple of verses Ray Ortlund pointed out at Immanuel Church on Sunday. It is the question that orbits the life of every person and the sweet, victorious answer:

I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question? 25The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

(Romans 7:24-25, MSG)

How sweet it is. I have tried everything to change. I think most of us will spend the majority of our lives trying to change. To change our pasts, to change our tendency to be bent toward sin. Some people move to new cities, some people get baptized again year after year, some people change jobs. I have relocated and made lists and charted calendars and marked up note cards and prayed promises and been determined and vowed lasting, genuine change.

But that is my problem. The answer is not in behavior modification. I have tried everything and nothing helps. I have been at the end of my rope. I have wondered if there was anyone who could do anything for me. My answer is in Christ, who (thank God!) can and does set all things right.

One and done,


beautiful things.

What a day. A sweet day that ended with a trip to Grace Chapel in Frankin to see Gungor. I interviewed Michael Gungor last Thursday. The show was pretty cool. We got there a little early and there was no where to sit! (I suppose that's what you get for a free event.) We ended up watching the show standing in the back. Anne and Sam found me, and Anne and I sat on the floor for awhile. The drive back to Nashville was so beautiful. We are finally supposed to be back in the 80s this week. I love summer in Music City. It's a beautiful thing.

Life is sweet. Christ is all,



Yard Sale. Andrea and Matt came over early this morning to have a yard sale. We had several tables set up in the driveway and Matt put this rope across my front porch. It was great for hanging clothes. I only ended up having two zucchini ready in my garden and only one of them sold. Most of my snickerdoodles sold (Andrea, Matt, and I ate a few too) and I sold my toaster so I can get one that takes up less counter space. Matt and Andrea gave me a TV they were going to sell so I put mine out for free. (The picture had been messing up a lot.) I didn't realize it until this afternoon, but the remote control I gave away with the TV was for my converter box (d'oh!)... so now I can only change the channels on the box, one at a time. So frustrating. I am trying to find a replacement remote on eBay.

We ran an extension cord out to the yard to run a fan because it was hot. Fortunately I have a great tree in my yard that shaded us most of the morning. I still got a little sunburned on my face and shoulders. Margaret came over from across the street and we convinced her to take two Christmas stockings for free. Throughout the day, Matt did a nice job haggling and translating prices in Spanish. As the morning progressed, we were practically giving everything away. Around 12:30 we were considering wrapping up early since we hadn't had too many customers in awhile, and the clouds were looking gray. Then without much warning (no thunder or anything) it began to pour on us. We frantically grabbed everything we could and threw it indoors. All our neighbors were standing on their porches watching us run around in the rain. Overall, the sale was pretty successful. I made a little chunk of spending money and Andrea and Matt earned enough to buy a mattress for Baby M.

Brake. A couple of weeks ago, my e-brake light on my dashboard came on. It would turn on when I braked and turn off when I accelerated. I figured it was no big deal but after a few days it was on more frequently than it was off. Oh, great. I thought, I'm going to have to take this to a mechanic and he is going to recognize that I am an incompetent female auto owner and charge me way too much and maybe even lie to me about what is wrong. I hate knowing I am being taken advantage of. So I did what I do when I feel overwhelmed or helpless: I avoided it.

I tried to ignore it. It's not easy ignoring a glaring red light on your dashboard, though. I finally decided to Google it. The development of Google has revolutionized the independence of single girls over the last few years. Google has been there for me before so I was not surprised that it told me just what I needed to know today. I found this forum describing my problem exactly, along with a proposed and confirmed solution.

So this afternoon I went down to my local auto parts store and bought some brake fluid for $3.27. Then I got out my owner's manual and found an illustration highlighting where to put it. I added brake fluid to the MAX line, started my car, and no e-brake light! That was easy! I must say I am pretty proud of myself. A mechanic would have gladly charged me at least $30 to do the same thing.

Finally, Miles is (as always) being super cute today. If I weren't in the middle of doing laundry, I would join him for a nap. Enjoy.

Equip and conquer,


zucchini fries.

When you're an amateur gardener and plant 12 zucchini plants supposing they won't all survive (they will, they're very hardy) and you end up with more zucchini than you know what to do with, you start getting creative. Real creative.

Yesterday I searched around for zucchini recipes. Besides simply steaming it with a few seasonings, I've made zucchini bread/cupcakes. I found recipes for zucchini quiche, zucchini pancakes, zucchini cookies, and zucchini fries. I thought I would try my hand at zucchini fries. They're baked so these fries are a pretty healthy alternative to potato fries.

1. Mix one egg, 2 T. milk, garlic powder, and parsley or oregano or basil.

2. Mix together Italian breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper.

3. Slice zucchini into fry-like strips.
I cut up three zucchini and it made two pans of fries.
I also peeled the zucchini (not real easy.) 

Don't worry about preheating your oven until you've completed these first three steps.
Prep took me 30-45 min. It's probably much faster with 2+ people.

Dip each zucchini fry in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs mixture, then arrange on the pan. I got impatient and just dumped the egg mixture over the zucchini and poured the breadcrumbs over it all and tried mixing it up by hand. Don't do this! It was way too moist and the breadcrumbs did not stick to the zucchini very well. They smelled so delicious though!

4. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn fries and bake 5 more minutes.
You can serve these with marinara sauce or ranch dressing. (They're good plain too.) So it didn't turn out really pretty, but they taste great! When I turned them after 10 minutes, I sprinkled more Parmesan cheese over the top. Since they didn't coat really well, my fries were a little moist and I'm eating them for lunch today with a fork, more like a zucchini casserole. At least I know what to do differently next time to make my zucchini fries look pretty. 

POST-LUNCH UPDATE: These were not very good reheated in the microwave. The breadcrumbs were all mushy. I suppose all fries are best straight from the oven … I could see zucchini working well in a Thanksgiving stuffing because that's kind of what they're like the second time around. Hopefully I will develop and perfect this recipe so in the future my fries come out crisp and not looking like trash.

Bon App├ętit,



This evening Anne + Sam invited me over for dinner. Anne made "chikky pot pie" (her words). She wouldn't let me take any pictures, so this is a stock photo, but hers looked much better (not so runny). Anne is a good cook. I was stuffed. I love that they are living in Nashville. Before I went, I picked some zucchini and took them to Anne + Sam.

Tomorrow I have to stay late at work because I have a band interview scheduled for 4 p.m. (I work until 3), and it will probably last 30 minutes. I'm interviewing Gungor (formerly known as Michael Gungor Band). Sunday night, Gungor is having a Beautiful Things event in Franklin, so I'm planning on going to that with three friends.

I skipped out on Movies and the Park ... again! I haven't been once this summer, but I have small group on Wednesday nights so by the time we get done (8:30) I know by the time I drive out to Centennial Park, find a place to park, and watch the rest of the movie, it will be really late. (I wake up at 5 a.m., remember?) Tonight they were showing The Blind Side. I've seen it; it's good. Next week is The Wizard of Oz. I feel a little compelled to go to that one, being a Kansan and all. Then they are showing Where the Wild Things Are the first Wednesday in July since it was rained out early this month.

Kevin was in his pool when I was out in my garden this afternoon and he told me he is frying up some catfish on Saturday and I am welcome to eat it and swim. Unfortunately I don't really like catfish, and my Saturday is pretty booked anyway. He mowed by backyard tonight; I'm trying to keep his family stocked with fresh zucchini so hopefully he knows I appreciate his help.

Good night,



Today I signed up to go to a Middle Tennessee Christian Writers Mini-Conference on August 28. It's in Nashville. Fiction writers. I like to dabble around in fiction every now and then (when I have time); this might be neat to see what it looks like to pursue being published. I feel like Nashville has kind of sucked the creativity out of me. It's seeping back, but the Year of Change (my first year here in which every aspect of my life changed dramatically) left me too busy and breathless to pick up a pen. The writer in me goes way back.

When I was little I would spend hours and hours writing fictional stories about my friends, make-believe characters, and great adventures. I did my own illustrations back then and finally matured in my writing as I learned how to write satisfying conclusions (throughout first grade every narrative ended, "And then she fainted. The end."). I was the over-emotional middle school poet. I crafted essays and research papers in high school until my teachers were ready to slap As on them after reading the introductory paragraph. In one of my proudest moments, a college professor gave me an A+ on an analysis of Jim Stevens' Schizophrenia.

Cover for 2008 collection
In college I wrote feature articles for a campus magazine. I took Intro. to Creative Nonfiction in which I had to write daily. Then Intro. to Poetry Writing. My poetry teacher was a Kansas poet laureate so I was still proud of myself when he gave me a B. (Even though I know he gave As to kids who never came to class and didn't turn in all of their assignments.) I got involved with the inkWELL, a group of my friends and writers who met on Saturday mornings to drink coffee (tea for me) and workshop the words we had managed to jam together during the week. It was wonderful.

I hesitate to identify myself as a writer in the same way a C-team fat kid hesitates to identify himself as an athlete. The same way having an alto saxophone doesn't make me a musician or having a garden doesn't make me a gardener. But writing has been a passion of mine since I was little, kindergarten even. I've still got my construction paper-and-staples books hidden away somewhere, in which I retold the plots of my favorite cartoons in crayon and sloppy illustrations.

Being published isn't the end all for me. I won't be too distraught if it never happens. But I think I have something to say sometimes, so hopefully it will be a possibility. (For now I've been sticking to self-publishing.) So this conference should be a neat experience and a chance to meet some other writers around Middle Tennessee.

Another conference I'd like to go to: 2010 Think. Anyone going to this? Because I think it might be lame to go by myself … even though I'm sure it would still be awesome. But really, I'd feel lame going by myself. (Any of my blog readers live in Minneapolis? We might need to become friends real quick!) ;)

Put it on paper,



Zucchini bread/muffins

Today I went to Aldi. For the first time ever. I didn't like it. They didn't have baking powder. I made zucchini bread/muffins. I'm not very good at spreading frosting; I don't like cake so I don't get a lot of practice. But I promise they still taste just as good, and quite possibly even better.

I had a burst of creativity this afternoon. It made me think of a Gwen Stefani quote that was featured on an hp commercial a year or two ago: Sometimes it's so hard to find what it is I'm trying to say. People might think you can turn creativity on and off, but it's not like that. It just kinda comes out: a mash-up of all these things you collect in your mind. You never know when it's gonna happen, but when it does, it's like magic. It's just that simple, and it's just that hard.

The boy I sponsor in Ethiopia, Million, wrote me a letter and told me that his favorite pet is chickens. His favorite game is football (soccer). Favorite holiday: Easter. Favorite food: chicken stew. Favorite color: white. Favorite Bible story: Moses. When Million grows up, he wants to be a soccer player. He wrote, (translated) "Please pray for the peace of the world. Pray for my country and my living." Million said that because he is now sponsored, he was able to get some new clothes. Million shares my birthday, February 12. He is 15 years old. Click here for more information about sponsoring a child.

Happy Monday,


father's day.

Dad and me in 2000
Cabin Fever Challenge Ride - 2007
Happy Father's Day! to my dad. Even though he's all the way back in Kansas, I celebrated by making an actual lunch. No frozen meal or cereal or peanut butter and jelly. This is legit.

Today's menu: tacos, kettle cooked jalapeno chips, and grapes. Mmm, mmm. My dad bought me a set of knives for Christmas ... they are sharp! I was cutting up the lettuce for my tacos and learned quickly that the knife does not distinguish between the lettuce and the thumb. It got a bit of my skin and put a nice cut through part of my nail. No blood in the tacos though. :) I'm also looking forward to getting back on my bike soon. Anne said Sam is a road biker so we can go find a route to ride. I'm excited about that for sure.

Happy Father's Day,


A: American Artisan Festival

I got up at 5 a.m. and was out in my yard by 5:30 pulling weeds and trimming bushes. The plants were all still wet and my garden was muddy. It took me until 8 a.m. to get everything done and just in time ... it started pouring rain as soon as I came inside! I was pretty gross when I came in for a shower, but my yard looks pretty nice now! That was followed by a 1.5 hour nap.

Jennifer and I were going to use the free movie tickets I have to see Toy Story 3 this afternoon, but the tickets are only good for movies that have been out for at least 12 days. We didn't want to pay more than $10 each for a movie, so we're just going to wait 12 days. Instead we went downtown to Centennial Park to check out the American Artisan Festival. It happens every year on Father's Day weekend; this is the 40th year! It's free and open to the public. There are more than 165 exhibitors from 35 states across America.

Me in front of the Parthenon
Each booth identified what city the seller was from. There were tons of neat things.
It was hot!
The entertainment.
It was a pretty neat event. It's going on tomorrow too. I almost bought a picture to hang on one of my walls, but I thought it would be more fun and less expensive to make something myself. I got some great ideas though. Now we'll see if I can make it happen. Jennifer and I stopped to get ice cream on the way home. I'm off now to the grocery store. I'm $70 under budget on groceries this month so I think I'll go find some real food instead of eating cereal for dinner tonight. :)

Get creative,


stellar kart.

Jordan and Adam playing in the Nashville Room
I first heard Stellar Kart in 2006 when one of my friends gave me their 2005 album, All Gas. No Brake. The band has recently released a new album, Everything Is Different Now. They played at Ichthus Music Festival last night in Kentucky, and Adam and Jordan came to LifeWay this morning to play a few songs and talk about their album. Usually Stellar Kart uses electric guitars, so the acoustic was a little different sound. It was good though.

For lunch our team met up with Andrea at The Copper Kettle to celebrate Jessica's birthday. I had never heard of meat-and-threes before I moved to Nashville. Today I got a meat-and-two: barbecued pulled pork, steamed veggies, and sweet potato casserole. One of our coworkers made Jessica a small birthday cake so she brought that and we had it for dessert. While we were there, the members of Addison Road came in. Andrea knew them from working a summer camp with them, so she went over and talked to them. I interviewed Jenny a couple of months ago for our magazine, so it was cool to see her in person. Welcome to Nashville.

After lunch we had a design meeting and photo shoot for our magazine. Tonight I am taking Sam and Anne to the airport so they can fly back to Kansas and pick up Anne's car. If the weather cooperates this weekend, it will be spent catching up on yard work. (Everything in my yard is without a doubt thriving!) Andrea and I are planning on having a yard sale next Saturday morning (or, she's planning on having a yard sale, but it'll be at my house ... my neighborhood has more of the yard sale-ing types of people than hers does. I haven't lived here long enough to accumulate much junk). Should be a good time.

On the verge of summer,


R: the rutledge.

410 4th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37201-2212
(615) 782-6858‎

Cuisine:  Bar Food
Reservations:  Not Required
Meals Served:  Dinner
Price Range:  $ (Under $9)
Smoking:  Outdoors Only
Parking:  On Site, Parking in Rear
Capacity:  232
Alcohol:  Full Bar
Average Drink Price:  $2.00-$6.00
Music Style:  Rock, Eclectic, Jazz, Country, Alternative, Vocal

Yesterday I saw that Audrey Assad tweeted about how she would be playing in Nashville tonight. I looked up the venue, and there was a long line-up of musicians and the event was free! I interviewed Audrey last Friday over the phone, so I was excited to meet her in person. Tonight Jennifer and I met up with a few of the interns at The Rutledge. We were there 30 minutes before the show, and no one was there! So we got seats right up front near the stage. We ended up being very glad because by the time the music got going, that place was packed.

Me, Jennifer, Kaitlin, Tiffany, and Logan at The Rutledge
(That's not my beer … just saying.)

Audrey Assad
Audrey Assad has a new album coming out on July 13. I've listened to it and it's great. Check it out.

After Audrey played, I got up to talk to her. I introduced myself and she did remember I interviewed her last week.
She was so sweet and took a picture with me.
Me and Audrey

Chris August
Chris August was good. Not really my style of music, but he's talented.

Mistletoe Project
Mistletoe Project was a little strange; they sang Christmas songs.
They had one song I really liked, but being a no-Christmas-music-til-after-Thanksgiving person,
I'm not sure their music fares well year-round.

House of Heroes
When I heard "House of Heroes" I thought that sounds like the name of a rock band.
They are a rock band. I could hardly hear afterward, but I really liked their music.
One of their songs, "In the Valley of the Dying Sun" is actually available for free on Amazon.com.

Poema is two teenage sisters from Albuquerque, Shealeen (age 19) and Elle (age 17).
They play acoustic/pop songs.

Brandon Heath

Brandon Heath began playing around 10 p.m. It was cool to see him live because I interview him last summer. He played a couple of new songs—one with Matt Wertz—before ending with "Give Me Your Eyes."

Newsboys played last, but it was 10:30 and Jennifer and I decided to go on home. We have to get up at 5 a.m. and so bedtime before midnight is absolutely necessary to be able to function at work at 6:30 a.m. The event was really fun. I have a couple of videos of Audrey and of Brandon. Here they are:

I love Music City,
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